A child on attaining age of marriage is free to choose his/her partner, irrespective of parents’ wishes or the partner’s criminal records

Kerala High Court: In a writ of habeas corpus filed by the parents of a girl allegedly detained by the respondent illegally, a division bench comprising of A.M. Shaffique and Anu Sivaraman, JJ., held that parental authority can be exercised while the son/ daughter remains a minor. However, the authority gets limited when the children attain majority and they can exercise their rights as a citizen. Similarly, when they reach the age of marriage, they are free to choose their own partner even if the choice is not to the liking of the parents.

The petitioners had contended that the respondent was an accused in a number of cases; that the Court should not permit the detenue to remain in the respondent’s custody since she did not understand the pros and cons of marrying such a person; and that the ultimate aim of the parents’ efforts was the welfare of the ward. The detenue was subjected to psychiatric evaluation which revealed that she was not suffering from any manic or psychotic disorder. The Respondents, on the other hand, relied on the fact that the detenue had in express terms, agreed to marry the respondent and the notice for the marriage had already been given.

Not considering the cases relied on by the petitioner the Court held that the detenue had not been detained illegally. The Court stated that “when a major girl exercises her fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution of India by choosing her partner, Court cannot resist such expression of opinion.” The detenue was directed to be free to exercise her own wish with respect to her marriage. [T.M. Shareef v. Abdulla K.B., 2017 SCC OnLine Ker 10186, decided on 24.07.2017]

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